Are You a "Lineupper" or a "Sidezoomer?"

Posted:
in AppleOutsider edited January 2014
Fascinating article in the NYT about drivers' behavior when confronted with bottlenecks. The author's premise is that there are two kinds of people: (1) "lineuppers" who patiently wait in line for the bottleneck to dissipate; and (2) "sidezoomers" who exploit every advantage they can to get around the bottleneck.



You see this a lot with road construction and "merge left/right" signs. Typically, lines will start forming in advance yet the soon to be closed lane is still open for a good while. Most people seem to wait in line, yet others zoom by until they have to merge.



I'm a sidezoomer.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 28
    splinemodelsplinemodel Posts: 7,311member
    I'm usually a "sidezoomer."



    I actually bought a four wheel drive car partly because I realized it would be better for taking onto shoulders and gravel during aggressive maneuvers in slow traffic.



    It's times like these where we must remember the cardinal rule in race driving: "Use all the track."
  • Reply 2 of 28
    brussellbrussell Posts: 9,812member
    I'm a sidezoomer stopper. If I see a sidezoomer coming up from behind, I try to position myself so that he has to wait and merge where he would have been if he had just lined up.
  • Reply 3 of 28
    shawnjshawnj Posts: 6,656member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by BRussell View Post


    I'm a sidezoomer stopper. If I see a sidezoomer coming up from behind, I try to position myself so that he has to wait and merge where he would have been if he had just lined up.



    I've encountered your kind!



    On one of my most epic sidezooms, I managed to zoom by lined up cars for miles. It was incredible. I don't think I've ever been happier. Then someone in an SUV pulled out and blocked my car for a few moments. Sadly for him, I passed him when traffic picked up again. Not the savviest sidezoom stopper, eh?
  • Reply 4 of 28
    splinemodelsplinemodel Posts: 7,311member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by BRussell View Post


    I'm a sidezoomer stopper. If I see a sidezoomer coming up from behind, I try to position myself so that he has to wait and merge where he would have been if he had just lined up.



    It's because of dopes like you that I got the four wheel drive car.
  • Reply 5 of 28
    Zoomer stopper, if at all possible. Have seen too many accidents (and at one point was a first responder), one involving a small kid aged 5.



    It's also the zoomers who make the line slower for everybody because they clog the merge point.
  • Reply 6 of 28
    shawnjshawnj Posts: 6,656member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bergermeister View Post


    It's also the zoomers who make the line slower for everybody because they clog the merge point.



    Not true, actually!



    Quote:

    They pointed out, as a Virginia Tech computer-science professor named Chris Barrett put it, that ?if you move over too soon, you have this big empty piece of real estate, which could absorb that many more cars.? And I would say, yes, but they still all have to squish into the same two-lane tunnel, right? And the experts would say yes, but what really botches the flow is the stop-and-go part ? which is accentuated both by the guy hanging around up there trying to last-minute jam his way in and by the hostile party in the Subaru who won?t let him, thus prompting him to try again in front of the next car, whose driver brakes while deciding whether to go into high-, medium- or low-level snit, and so on



  • Reply 7 of 28
    e1618978e1618978 Posts: 6,074member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Splinemodel View Post


    It's because of dopes like you that I got the four wheel drive car.



    I'm also a sidezoomer stopper - I think that sidezoomers are out of control bastards who are going to kill somebody. The best sidezoomer stoppers are semitrailors and cops.
  • Reply 8 of 28
    shawnjshawnj Posts: 6,656member
    Come to think of it, I'm also a sidezoomer stopper if I ever find myself merging too quickly.



    Interesting.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by e1618978 View Post


    The best sidezoomer stoppers are semitrailors and cops.



    Except sidezoomers aren't doing anything illegal for cops to stop them.



    Even the old "exit ramp/on-ramp" trick to bypass a section of stopped traffic is legal.
  • Reply 9 of 28
    Ahh, but a lot of those zoomers exceed the speed limit, which is often reduced in those areas, which can then result in a reckless charge.
  • Reply 10 of 28
    franksargentfranksargent Posts: 4,694member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bergermeister View Post


    Ahh, but a lot of those zoomers exceed the speed limit, which is often reduced in those areas, which can then result in a reckless charge.



    There are also laws forbidding passing on the right, or left/right shoulders if there is no traffic obstructions (e. g. an accident).



    I did a classic zoomer stopper once, I literally did it for miles, with an 18-wheeler on my left, and the shoulders totally obstructed, due to road construction barriers on either side. In fact I made it into a FIFO queue, where I'd occasionally move up in the right hand lane but still leaving all that forward space available for forward left/right lane maneuvers, than shadow a right hand vehicle (usually a large 18-wheeler), or stop completely, making the left lane move slower or not at all relative to the right lane, and letting people who had queued (properly) in the right lane pass me in the right lane. Making sure that any zoomers that had tried their zooming trick did not pass me, that rearview mirror was most useful (in my elevated 4WD truck that I owned at the time) for maintaining queueing order. Those who did line up properly were allowed to pass, those that did not queue up properly were made to go slower than the entire queue (e. g. FILO) on average.



    Learned this trick by watching two 18-wheelers do the exact same strategy once, bringing order to chaos, by forcing a FIFO queue, you can even leave a gap of several feet between two abreast vehicles, essentially blocking driving access to either shoulder, motorcycles or those willing to go off road (down steep embankments usually) could still get by, but these are few and far between for the majority of traffic goers.



    And boy did I piss off that zoomer immediately behind me, gave him the two handed middle finger salute. once we passed the blockage point, and loved every minute of their frustration too. Also I got a wink and a nod from many of the truckers.



    Teamwork. Wait your turn sucker.
  • Reply 11 of 28
    shawnjshawnj Posts: 6,656member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by franksargent View Post


    There are also laws forbidding passing on the right, or left/right shoulders if there is no traffic obstructions (e. g. an accident).



    "No passing on the right" laws most likely allow for this situation.



    And actually, sidezoomer stoppers probably violate aggressive driving laws.
  • Reply 12 of 28
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ShawnJ View Post


    "No passing on the right" laws most likely allow for this situation.



    And actually, sidezoomer stoppers probably violate aggressive driving laws.



    How is someone going to know that somebody else is a stopper? The whole world knows who the zoomer is.



    The Zoomer... at theaters everywhere.
  • Reply 13 of 28
    e1618978e1618978 Posts: 6,074member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ShawnJ View Post


    "No passing on the right" laws most likely allow for this situation.



    And actually, sidezoomer stoppers probably violate aggressive driving laws.



    I have seen people try to pass cops on the shoulder, and get pulled over and ticketed in NC. Google search indicates that it is illegal in California, probably in other states also.
  • Reply 14 of 28
    I once got a ticket in high school for passing on the right. It was $125 bucks.



    Sicne then, I really haven't done it again.
  • Reply 15 of 28
    shawnjshawnj Posts: 6,656member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bergermeister View Post


    How is someone going to know that somebody else is a stopper? The whole world knows who the zoomer is.



    The Zoomer... at theaters everywhere.



    I've seen some pretty outrageous stopping behavior. Guys that position their cars perpendicular or diagonally to the lane. Aggressive driving laws require drivers to drive defensively. The stopping behavior I described isn't defensive driving. As a sidezoom stopper myself on occasion, the best method is to just get halfway in both lanes. Not sure if that's legal or not, but it forces sidezoomers to illegally drive on the shoulder. So it's a good technique.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by e1618978 View Post


    I have seen people try to pass cops on the shoulder, and get pulled over and ticketed in NC. Google search indicates that it is illegal in California, probably in other states also.



    Definitely. But merely passing on the right on an interstate isn't illegal, especially in California
  • Reply 16 of 28
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ShawnJ View Post


    "No passing on the right" laws most likely allow for this situation.



    And actually, sidezoomer stoppers probably violate aggressive driving laws.



    I'm following the same rulez as the zoomers are, traffic is virtually stopped in the right hand lane, I can match the speed of the ongoing traffic as long as I obey the posted maximum speed limit, and any other speed limits imposed in these areas. Once a single car is behind me I am not obstructing traffic, since the obstruction already exists to begin with. So that if someone else tries pass the slower moving right lane traffic, a vehicle in the left hand lane has every right to travel at the same speed as the rest of the obstructed traffic, as both lanes are progressing at the exact same speed.



    I stay in my designated lane as outlined by the lane markers, I don't drift into oncoming traffic, now if they don't want to obey the rulez of the road and off road it more power to them. Like i already stated though there wasn't enough room to physically pass as barriers were in place. Now who's the aggressive driver? Someone who sees the signs, and sees the slower moving traffic in all lanes, and still decides to attempt to drive over another vehicles? I don't think so.



    Another thing I do all the time in these situations, I never let anyone cut into my lane, I'm basically bumper to bumper, when the traffic is progressing at let's say less than 10 MPH. They basically have to hit me in an attempt to cut in. Sorry Charlie, you didn't wait your turn. I would hope that most law abiding citizens would adopt the same strategies, this would figuratively and literally stop the zoomers. Get in line and wait your turn, it's called a single queue. Go figure.



    Also note that if everyone did obey the traffic signs the flow of traffic past the obstruction would be at it's most efficient, as no one is switching lanes, cutting in, or moving out of the designated lane(s) which has been proven over and over again. I did take a Highway Engineering course long ago, the traffic has to squirts past the obstruction, and then in front of them lies an almost unoccupied road. In a word, queue throughput is dramatically diminished due to zooming cutters, that's overly aggressive driving, and unsafe to boot, someone else has to stop while they let you in. An interleaved queue is grossly inefficient, as the exercise of interleaving, reduces the queue's throughput due to slower navigation through the interleaving section(s).



    Case closed on that one. \



    In closing I obey all the rulez of the road. \
  • Reply 17 of 28
    brussellbrussell Posts: 9,812member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Splinemodel View Post


    It's because of dopes like you that I got the four wheel drive car.



    So you can try to screw up traffic even when conditions are slippery?
  • Reply 18 of 28
    Oh snap!
  • Reply 19 of 28
    franksargentfranksargent Posts: 4,694member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ShawnJ View Post


    "No passing on the right" laws most likely allow for this situation.



    And actually, sidezoomer stoppers probably violate aggressive driving laws.



    Ok, so I just now read the article you posted, and it says pretty much exactly what I said about an interleaving queue. Note that humans are not ants, note also that humans are not geese, but more on that one later.



    I'm a perfectionist, and I'm quite sure that all drivers are not equally aware of the same things and behaviors as ants or geese, human nature dictates that not all will be equally adept at using proper queueing strategies, e. g. sparse interleaving at the rate of throughput of the choke point. Also note that the queue isn't static in length, but varies according to the differences between the mean speed of the inbound and outbound vehicles, it shrinks and grows, based on the outgoing queue speed and volume of incoming traffic.



    The basic principle is to maintain an orderly and efficient queue, ants understand this instinctually, humans of much larger brain capacity mostly do not.



    Now the geese example, geese fly and turn by observing the leader of the vee formation, not the goose immediately in front of them, for if they did react to the goose in front of then the vee would spiral out of control an the trailers must account for the number of lags caused by all the geese in the formation in front of them, The speed and centripetal force of the turn, means that a following the goose in front of you stratagy will not maintain the formation.



    How does this apply to humans, you ask?



    Well think of a red light, I'm twenty cars back, but we all see the light turn green at the same time. Now I know that if all the drivers in front of me were geese we would all move forward immediately accelerating at the same exact ramping speed. Thus, if we were geese, which for obvious reasons we're not, then the throughput through that traffic light would be maximized.



    But since we are not guess, and none of you are well trained drivers, with excellent spatial skillz like I have, this perfect throughput never happens. That's because of human behavioral patterns and a lack of adequate reaction, spatial skillz, and rigorous training. We wait for the vehicle immediately in front of us to move first before we attempt to move, because we don't know how skilled and trained those drivers are, it's called a chain reaction, and is never as efficient as say cyclists drafting, it's a innate learned skill, which other species develop to a much higher level than almost all humans, because the innate skill benefits the whole.



    Humans are self centered and never think in coordinated group behaviors, they do not innately trust that all others in the group will exhibit the exact, or very similar behaviors. They are not schooled properly in group behaviors, and there is always a social or mentally retarded individual that the society tolerates through artificial means, they will always be the one to slow down the entire process, they will always screw up the whole thing to begin with.



    I think of geese, every time I'm at a red light, behind several cars, and think what a bunch of stupid and uncoordinated individuals, can't you see the light just turned green. Yup, but they don't have the sense or skillz, to navigate the red light properly. D'oh!
  • Reply 20 of 28
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    Sidezoomer to a reasonable opening in traffic. There's no reason not to use as much road as is available before merging since at most traffic densities this comes up in the speed at the merge point is low anyway. I also always let one car in at the merge point if I happened to have lined up earlier.



    Blocking folks from using the available road seems childish. Regardless of queing theory, traffic engineers disagree to the point where they post signs that say "Use all available lanes until merge" in some states.



    Efficient queing is all very well but when traffic density increases too much you can't zipper merge at speed anyway. Roads are clogged and you get slowdowns even without bottlenecks, construction or accidents.



    I only use the shoulder if I'm within very close visual range of my exit. Mostly because it's a tad too tantilizing not to do so if there's no danger to anyone else and I'll be one less car clogging up the road.



    Eh, super aggressive vigilantes are as big a problem as super agressive sidezoomers.
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